Huff Theatre packs a punch with “Punch”

martinaBy Martina Gutierrez.

The Huff Theatre performed “Punch,” their 89th production, in the Building 6 Auditorium on Nov. 6 and 7. “Punch” is about two college students who invite people to their party—the catch is they all have to be honest for one hour.

The idea of being honest for an hour interested me very much. It’s a story that could actually be a great movie. The play wasn’t what I expected, but it resonated with some experiences within my own life.

The play is about going through the everyday motions of life: “Why do we go to school to go to work, or why do we work to go to school just to do more work? What’s the point?”

This is actually a great point. In other words, they are saying this life is meaningless. I felt the same.

If you can follow it, it’s got a deeper meaning; it’s about growing up.

Vanessa Hunt, whose role is the Vacuum Girl, said when she first got the script she thought, “What is this? This makes no sense!” However as the story went on, she understood what it meant.

Zachary Bishop, who plays Richard said, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, and what character was I going to be? It took me a while to figure out what the play was actually about.”

Annie Nguyen - On her return visit to Huff Theatre; she is now currently in the Theatre program at the University of Iowa. Pictured with cast of "Punch!"

Annie Nguyen – On her return visit to Huff Theatre; she is now currently in the Theatre program at the University of Iowa. Pictured with cast of “Punch!” — Photo Courtesy Huff Theatre

After seeing the reactions of the other Campus Chronicle staff members who attended the play, it appeared that many had the same thoughts as the cast members—confusion. However, I totally got it and loved it! This play may not be for everyone, but for those who have a great imagination…this is for you!

Derek Kopacek plays the characters Gary/Greg. He wasn’t sure about auditioning, “I actually didn’t even think I was good enough, but my mom told me I was.”  So he tried out and found out he was really good.

When he first got the script, he thought, “What the…”

“It seemed like mad ramblings, but as the play progressed, I understood more and more. Until finally, I got it! The meaning, [I] understood it and how it was just brilliant,” said Kopacek.

On the other hand, the point of the play was easy to understand for cast member Sarah Yawn (Selena). “[With the previous play] I had to read it like 4 times before I got the syntax. Where this one, I read it only one time and didn’t need to really think about it. It’s hilarious!”

Kayla played the more dramatic character, to which I can relate. Kayla said the play opened her eyes to different viewpoints, such as how to enjoy the little things in life. At one point in the play, her character enjoys a moment with the grandmother watching the stars.

“This makes me think about everything that we take for granted and the little things that matter,” Kayla said.

Brittany’s character as the Grandma, says she loves this play because it’s original and entertaining. She already knew which role she would be playing after reading the script. “I knew I was going to be Grandma, I love this play! I think it’s a lot of fun and because of Bill, I feel like I’ve grown so much as an actress, especially for wanting this acting/theatre to be my profession,” Brittany said.

I asked Professor Johnson how he felt about this production compared to his past shows. He said, “It’s been the usual struggle, where one day we leave euphoric and the next defeated. Our new cast, who were once timid and restrained, has now come to understand what it means to truly live on stage.”

He also said it gives the actors a chance to get out of their comfort zones. “Young actors unacquainted with the good and healthy freedom; they enjoy to experiment and express themselves.”

He continued, “The Huff experience invites those students to experience theatre as art. I frequently explain to them that we are not a community college theatre, we are a theatre which just happens to be on a college campus.”

The cast members I talked to after the show made it clear that the Huff Theatre has become their home. They described writer/director Professor Bill Johnson with such words as “crazy,” “eccentric,” and “unique.”

No matter the words they use, they made it clear he has a passion for drama and the play was a strong bonding experience for the group.

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